Halep eyes second straight title after downing Sevastova

Madrid: In the Women’s Madrid Open, defending champion Simona Halep cruised back into the final for the third time in four years with a 6-2, 6-3 success over Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova.
Halep also thrashed the world number 22 two weeks ago in Stuttgart and there was never any danger of an upset as the Romanian reeled off five straight games to close out the opening set.
Sevastova hinted at a fightback early in the second as she got out to a 3-0 lead.
But Halep, who is also into the semifinals of the women’s doubles with compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu, showed no signs of lacking in energy as she bounced back in emphatic fashion to win the last six games for the loss of just 14 points. Halep with face in-form Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic or Svetlana Kuznetsova in Saturday’s final.
Eugenie Bouchard’s Madrid Open campaign ended on Thursday with a whimper as she was thrashed 6-4 6-0 by eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova to exit at the quarterfinal stage.
The Canadian set the tournament alight with a scintillating, three-set win over Maria Sharapova on Tuesday after her outspoken comments about the Russian returning from her 15-month doping ban, including calling her a cheater.
She then saw off world number two Angelique Kerber to reach the last eight but was slapped down by Russian Kuznetsova, who only ceded one break point in the entire match, which she saved. The eighth seed then took Bouchard apart in the second set, breaking her four times before serving out the match. Halep with face in-form Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic or Svetlana Kuznetsova in Saturday’s final.
On the other side of the draw Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas advanced to his first ever Masters series semifinal by outlasting German wonder kid Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.
Zverev had been on a seven-match victory streak after winning his second title of the season in Munich last week.
However, after a bright start from the 20-year-old, tiredness kicked in as Cuevas, backed by a fervent support including Atletico Madrid duo Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann, roared back to win the second set 6-0.
And Cuevas landed the only break in the final game of the deciding set when Zverev fired wide to set up a semifinal against Dominic Thiem or Andy Murray’s conqueror Borna Coric.
— Agencies